The book is Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence Bergreen.
II. Form of Paper:
A. Paper should be about 5-6 pages, double-spaced, with ONE inch margins. Please use size 12 font. (The title page is NOT included in the page-count.)
B. Paper should have a title page with (1) title (2) your name and (3) the date.
C. At the top of the first page of the text, give the author, title, place of publication, publisher, and year. Ex:
Heiko A. Oberman. Luther: Man between God and the Devil. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
III. Content of Paper, or Specific Guidelines for Writing a Book Review:
A. Please note that you are writing a book REVIEW, not a book report. A review should certainly contain a summary, but that is only ONE PART of the review.
B. Your book review should answer these five basic questions about the book:
1. What is the subject of the book?
2. What is the author’s thesis? (What is the main argument of the book?)
3. How does the author’s argument compare with what other historians have written on the topic? (In other words, compare the author’s thesis with the historiography of the topic.)
a. Historiography: the collected work of historian on a particular topic. Historians sometimes disagree about history, so the historiography includes those various arguments (thesis) that historians have presented about a topic.
4. What primary evidence/sources does the author use to back up his/her argument?
5. What is your take on the book?
C. Pointers to help you answer the questions:
1. Your review should contain a brief summary of the book. When you are writing a review, you should assume that the reader has NOT read the book, so you need to bring her up to speed so she can follow along in the analysis.
2. Identify the author’s thesis. It should be clearly stated in the introduction and in the conclusion of your book. What is the author trying to accomplish with book? Are they trying to reach a particular audience, argue a particular point, present the history of the topic in a particular way?
3. You should also find the historiography of the topic in the introduction. The author will usually discuss what other historians have written about the topic before and state if he/she disagrees or agrees or if they believe that no one has really covered the particular topic before. Other reviewers of the book will also discuss the historiography, so that is another good source (check scholarly journals for other reviews).
4. The body of the work should discuss the evidence and the kind of primary sources the author used. Is it legal documents? Letters? Journals? Artifacts? Financial accounts? Something else? A mix of various sources?
5. How successful do you think the author is in proving the thesis? Is the argument convincing? Are the sources used well? Do the sources back up the thesis?
D. A note about organization:
i. Start by introducing the general topic of the book (time-period, geographic area, historical context). Then, introduce the book (title, author, scope of book). Finish your introductory paragraph with your thesis.
ii. For a book review, your thesis essentially consists of what you think about the book in a nutshell. So, here’s an example of a thesis:
“In his biography of Martin Luther, Heiko Obermann succeeds in presenting a very balanced view of the religious reformer, including both his strengths and his flaws.”
iii. Follow your intro with a summary of the book (should not be longer than 3 pages).
iv. Then you can decide how best to organize your analysis. You should have at least one substantial paragraph each on thesis/historiography, primary sources, and your take on the book.
v. Finish with a conclusion.
E. The goal with the book review paper, or why I am having you do this:
1. To make you read a book on a subject of your choosing!
2. To allow you get a deeper knowledge on a topic.
3. To practice your writing skills.
4. To practice reading critically and analyzing information, rather than taking it at face value.

Order Now